GREENSBORO — Residents greeted the morning with shock and surprise as they started surveying the damage from storms with high winds that tore through parts of East Greensboro on Sunday afternoon.
"This is Kansas, today," said Darlene Allen, looking at her neighbor's destroyed house at 1502 Avalon Street.
The storm left one man dead and two injured when a tree fell on their cars.
Thousands were still without power Monday morning as road crews began clearing debris in the affected areas. Businesses near the storm zone also struggled with power outages.
Glass crunched under the feet of the Rev. Lester Woodard as he stopped in what had been his church's foyer and looked at where the roof should have been at Living Hope Missionary Baptist Church.
Walls, a portion of the roof and the giant wooden steeple were scattered across the property, colored in pink insulation.
Living Hope is next door to Hampton Elementary, both in the tornado's path.
"He's gotten us through other things and He can get us through this," Woodward said, referring to his faith in God.
Had it happened half an hour earlier, he and other church members would have been in a service.
At 10:30 a.m., nearly 24,000 Duke Energy customers remained without power, according to the company’s website. Most of those outages are centered in East Greensboro and eastern Guilford County.
A tornado was first spotted near U.S. 29 and East Gate City Boulevard about 5:15 p.m. on a rainy, cloudy afternoon. Roughly 15 minutes later, a tornado was reported in the Monroeton community southwest of Reidsville.
Twenty-one city crews of several workers each were on the ground Monday morning reopening streets throughout the city’s southeastern and northeastern sections, said James Steber, the city’s right of way manager.
Steber said he did not know how many streets had been closed by downed trees and other storm debris.
“They’re cutting the trees out of the road and then pushing it to the side so the road is usable again,” Steber said of the clean-up crews. “That’s our main priority right now.”
Steber said that the crews were retracing the same they used last winter to collect leaves, “just taking it one leaf route at a time.” He said the teams also were in contact with Duke Energy when they encountered downed lines or other problems with the power grid.
He added that 13 clean-up crews from the city Field Operations Department had been bolstered by eight teams on loan from the city’s water resources program.
On Monday, residents remembered the storm and surveyed the damage.
Allen was cooking dinner at 1426 S. English when someone in the house looked out the window and saw bricks flying.
"This is awful," she said.
David Oldham, who has lived in his uncle's home at 4003 Oak Grove Ave. for 40 years, was watching a Pittsburgh Pirates game in his living room when he heard a boom.
The noise was from a tree that fell into what Oldham calls the "junk room." The tree bent the foundation of the home. He said a neighbor had to kick in the door to rescue him.
Oldham said his neighbor saw a funnel cloud touch down in front of Oldham's house.
“It came so damn quick. Boom! It hit,” Oldham said. He used a flashlight to alert the neighbor.
Valley View Street resident Sandi Wyatt didn't think much about it when she heard about the tornado warning Sunday afternoon.
Wyatt was on Wendover Avenue when the possible tornado struck her neighborhood.
She was stunned by what she saw when she returned home. She was unable to drive into the neighborhood. Her home was not damaged but others were not so lucky.
Patrick Hulon, also of Valley View Street, has a hole in his roof and tree down in his yard. Another tree ripped the power box from his home. He said the insurance company would be on site in two days.
“I heard a loud roar. It sounded like a train so I grabbed my dogs and a mattress and I hunkered down,” Hulon said.
Hulon breeds labradors and said he would be taking the dogs to a friend who has a kennel in Guilford County.
Ken and Dorothy Carter, of 1405 Lord Foxley Drive, said a neighbor got trapped in a home when a tree fell and blocked escape routes. The Carters said the trapped neighbor had to be rescued.
One man died when a tree fell on his car.
Greensboro police said Anthony George, 48, of Greensboro, was killed at 5:46 p.m. when a tree fell on his moving BMW at East Cone Boulevard and Ceasar Street.
Two other people were injured in the same incident. Renee George, 49, a passenger in the BMW; and Becky Combs, 48, of Liberty, who was driving a Dodge Avenger that was hit by the same tree. Neither woman suffered life-threatening injuries.
No other people were reported injured during or after the fast-moving storm.
Businesses along Bessemer Avenue are either closed or struggling to accommodate customers in the aftermath of the storm.
Andrew Davis, a sales associate at Fashion Avenue at Summit Shopping Center at the intersection of Bessemer Avenue said he was getting ready to close the store around 5:30 p.m. Sunday when the power went out.
He and store manager K.S. Bassi stood in the dark of the store looking out at an empty parking lot while they waited for the power to come on.
Supervisor Jose Rodriquez a few doors down at Elizabeth’s Pizza was not going to wait for power.
He and some of his staff of the restaurant loaded food onto a refrigerated truck to take to a sister restaurant on Groometown Road.
Across Bessemer Avenue at Northeast Shopping Center, Patti Chambers of H&R Block ate lunch while waiting in a darkened office to direct clients to other H&R Block locations.
“It’s bad to lose power before the day before tax season ends and you work in a tax office,” Chambers said. “We’re doing the best we can.”
Customers pulling into the parking lot of the shopping center paused briefly to look at the darkened windows of Compare Supermarket before driving on.
Employees in the grocer did not want to talk, but it appeared the meat cases were empty.
Like other business in the shopping center, Dollar Tree was also closed.
“I have let a couple of customers in who paid with cash,” said store manager James Whitaker.
Down the street, McKnight Hardware on Bessemer Avenue was open for business thanks to three generators and some portable lights.
Customers were purchasing propane and other emergency essentials and sharpening chainsaw blades.
The store is no stranger to power outages, having lived through several weather related blackouts over the years.
“We’ve been through this several times, so our system works out pretty well,” said store manager Harold Lewis. “We’ve always tried to bring services to people during emergencies.”
Tito Rodriquez and his wife Idella were driving south on U.S. 29 on their way back to Greensboro after visiting family in Danville, Va. when they spotted a debris cloud swirling off to the left just north of Cone Boulevard.
“I lived in New York when I was a kid and went through Hurricane Agnes, but I never been through a tornado,” Rodriquez said.
He and his wife operate Monk’s Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers at Pyramid Village.
The shopping center did lose power for several hours Sunday night, but it was restored it was business as usual today.
Rodriquez said an internet outage disrupted his point-of-sale system. He can’t take credit or debit cards, but he is selling lunch to those with cash.
“I’m just thankful it wasn’t any worse for us.”
Across the parking lot, business was brisk at Walmart.
“We lost power for a little more than six hours and went into our safety protocol,” said Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson.
Crowson said that protocol is to move perishable stock into refrigerated trucks.
He said the store is currently restocking shelves.